The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class

Title: GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class
Genre: Comedy
Company: AICPLUS+
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 July 2009 – 22 Sep 2009

Synopsis: Kisaragi is the shy, nice girl, Tomokane is the tomboy, Miki is small, cute, and mischievous, Miyabi deadpans, and Namiko plays the straight man. Together, they’re five freshmen attending a vocational art school where chickens freely roam the front lawn. Hilarity ensues!

The Highlights
Art lessons: All you ever wanted to know.
Aesthetic: Pastel hues and cheery demeanor.
Pace: Controlled hyperactivity.
Humor: Consistently on the mark.

Japanese 4-komas (4-panel gag comic series) and their anime adaptions tend to follow an established template. It reads like a checklist: a handful of friends, invariably girls high school aged, look cute, act funny, and observe the truisms of everyday life in class, at club, and thereabouts. Yes, when GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is reduced to a basic synopsis it hardly distinguishes itself from the crowd with similar 4-koma roots, but it proves that following form doesn’t mean it has to be hollow and bland; by taking its own light spin on the genre coupled with a relentless, infectious energy, GA injects a worn and tired formula with new life.

The hook, GA’s unique angle, is art. Not just about art students, which has been done the world over in other comedy/slice of life shows like Hidamari Sketch or Sketchbook ~full color’s~, GA is about Art. Throughout the episodes, a cornucopia of topics and techniques in the field are touched on, from oil painting, pencil sketching, and paper and cardboard crafts, to museum trips, surrealism, and storybook drawing. Each scene works like a mini-lesson, presenting interesting bits and facts that very well entertain on their own, but also serve to lay the groundwork for the funnies.

And oh is it funny. GA’s humor works on the philosophy of “show, don’t tell.” It takes these simple, generic characters cut from the universal mold for simple, generic characters and, instead of constantly beating you over the head with recycled tropes, lets their personalities shine through their art projects in inventive ways. When you can tell who turned in each pictograph assignment in the first episode, you know the show did something right.

The look and sound of GA effectively unifies its overarching theme of “kids at play.” The soft designs and pastel hues evoke an innocent, childlike mood, and the music adds a peppy jazz underscore to all the scenes. I’m quite fond of the catchy OP and ED themes and tunes featuring xylophones and whistles.

Behind the magic curtain you can imagine this anime’s clever wit hard at work, making the humor consistent, not redundant; reassuringly familiar while also fresh and quick paced. It’s very crafty, much like in the way great improvisational artists are. Renowned card game designer Mark Rosewater often wrote about how “restrictions breed creativity,” meaning that you can play within the rules set for you but still make something innovative. GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class takes those words to heart, achieving where other Azumanga Daioh copycats fall short, with intangible qualities like enthusiasm, wit, and genuine creativity. This anime is derivative, sure, but also funny and sincerely charming, and is a real treat for those curious enough to take a look.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: kadian1364

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